Marginalized women are especially vulnerable to falling into poverty when they are forced to perform unpaid care and lack access to child care. Poverty rates by sex and gender are widest for women between the ages of 25 and 34. This is when households typically face increased child care expenses and women have less time for paid work. Women and girls who are the main caretakers at home are less likely to have time to attend a school or secure work.

Unpaid domestic care work is lowest in developed regions, where women spend twice as much time on such tasks as men, and greatest in Northern Africa and Western Asia, where women spend seven times as much time on unpaid work than men. Climate change is also increasing women’s unpaid work in farming and water and fuel collection.

Spending more time on unpaid care also means having less time for paid labor, political participation, self-care, rest, and leisure. What’s more, unpaid care work can stunt girls’ self-confidence and personal development through play and socialization.

Expanding access to high-quality child care has the potential for positive multi-generational impacts by improving women’s employment, early childhood development outcomes, family welfare, business performance, and overall economic growth.

Here are six reasons the public and private sectors must work together to elevate the care agenda.

  1. Women performed more unpaid work and experienced more job losses during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2.  The rate of women worldwide who stopped work due to caregiving responsibilities increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Providing women access to child care could improve the world economy.
  4. More robust universal child care programs could reduce the gender pay gap.
  5. Addressing child care barriers could increase women’s labor force participation rate and help caregivers re-enter the labor force. 
  6. Almost half of the world’s children lack access to child care.

Read the full article about care work by Leah Rodriguez at Global Citizen.